Document Details

A Water Resources Data-Network Evaluation for Monterey County, California, Phase 3: Northern Salinas River Drainage Basin

William E. Templin, Randall C. Schluter | December 15th, 1990

This report presents an evaluation of water resources data collection networks in the northern Salinas River drainage basin, Monterey County, California. The evaluation, done in cooperation with the Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, covers both quantity and quality monitoring by precipitation, surface-water, and ground-water networks. The report describes existing networks in the study area and possible additional data collection.

The study identified 34 precipitation gages in the study area, of which 20 are active. The stations are concentrated in the northwestern part of the study area. Data are lacking for the eastern and southern parts of the study area, as well as the southwestern slopes of the Gabilan Range. No precipitation-quality networks were identified. Possible data-collection efforts for precipitation quality include monitoring for acid rain and for pesticides in precipitation.

The study identified 10 streamflow-gaging stations, of which 6 are active. To meet the objectives for streamflow networks that are outlined in the report, all sites could be reactivated, and two of the inactive sites could be relocated to improve the reliability of the data. Besides these stations, nine possible additional streamflow-gaging sites were identified.

The Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation District samples one surface-water site for suspended sediment, specific conductance, and chlorides. Several agencies have done water-quality sampling in the past, but only five sites are active. Reactivation of the 45 inactive sites might help to meet the various surface-water-quality objectives described in the report. Development of a stream-reach rating system also could help to identify parts of the study area most in need of sampling.

The Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation District maintains three networks to measure ground-water levels on a monthly basis, during peak irrigation, and at the end of the irrigation season. The District measures water levels in 318 wells. The only other network identified for this report was operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, and none of its five wells are active. The study identified 128 sections in which no ground-water-level monitoring is presently done. Well coverage is densest in the saltwater-intrusion areas near Castroville, California. Wells in the rest of the study area are more sparsely distributed and are concentrated down the center of the drainage basin in the alluvial ground-water basin.

The ideal initial baseline network of ground-water-quality wells would be an evenly spaced grid of index wells within each aquifer, with a density of one per section. Once baseline conditions were established, representative wells could be selected and monitored annually. As of 1985, the Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation District monitored 379 study wells in the area for various water-quality conditions. Other networks monitor (or propose the monitoring of) 135 wells. The District collects samples in summer months to monitor saltwater intrusion near Castroville.

Annual samples also are analyzed for chloride, specific conductance, and nitrate. Every 5 years, the District does a complete mineral analysis on each study well. Improvements in network coverage are suggested to better approximate ideal network coverage. The adequacy of wells in existing monitoring networks for representing actual conditions in the ground-water basins was not established conclusively.

Possible redundancy of information from existing networks was not evaluated statistically. Despite these limitations, this report does provide a basis for assessing the adequacy of ground-water-level networks in the study area. The computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) that is planned for Monterey County could easily use the information in this report for the needed initial analysis of network adequacy. The feasibility of management and analysis of large complicated data bases (such as the ground water networks identified in this report) is substantially improved through the use of state-of-the-art GIS tools now available.


Groundwater Exchange, groundwater-surface water interaction, planning and management, salinity, water quality

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